Thursday, December 2, 2010

Puppet story - key writing elements

The piece with the puppet below is a great example of several storytelling elements.

  • Suspension of disbelief. You know the puppeteer walking alongside is operating an inanimate object, but your imagination begins to flesh out character. 
  • Show - don't tell. There's no verbal narration, you come to know the story by what you see, and the connections you make in your head. Connections to character insight, to a wider sense of what does it really mean to be alive. The more symmetry in the gesture, e.g. the head turns to point towards the hand, which we see as the puppet 'looking' at his hands, the deeper the illusion of reality. If it becomes emotionally true for the viewer, then it is no longer (in any meaningful way) an illusion.
  • What is most personal is most universal. We all yearn for freedom, for aliveness, so see that yearning in the movements of the puppet.
  • The relationship between text and subtext. We see the puppet move, with his newfound freedom, but then realize that he realizes that he really has neither movement nor freedom. That's a human moment, and makes us wonder if his choice would be our choice. What is driving his choice, what forces are driving our choices. 
I've seen less story in entire cinematic movies than those few minutes of illusion of reality.

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